Skip to main content Accessibility help
  • Cited by 1
Cambridge University Press
Online publication date:
January 2019
Print publication year:
Online ISBN:

Book description

The Partisan Republic is the first book to unite a top down and bottom up account of constitutional change in the Founding era. The book focuses on the decline of the Founding generation's elitist vision of the Constitution and the rise of a more 'democratic' vision premised on the exclusion of women and non-whites. It incorporates recent scholarship on topics ranging from judicial review to popular constitutionalism to place judicial initiatives like Marbury vs Madison in a broader, socio-legal context. The book recognizes the role of constitutional outsiders as agents in shaping the law, making figures such as the Whiskey Rebels, Judith Sargent Murray, and James Forten part of a cast of characters that has traditionally been limited to white, male elites such as James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, and John Marshall. Finally, it shows how the 'democratic' political party came to supplant the Supreme Court as the nation's pre-eminent constitutional institution.


'A superb, deftly written history of the unsettling transformation of an aristocratic-tinged constitutional republic to a partisan white male democracy.'

Mary Sarah Bilder - Founders Professor of Law, Boston College

'The Partisan Republic tells a story of constitutional decline - from the republican vision of the Framers to an antebellum Constitution that, although more democratic, was also more aggressive in its defense of states' rights and its exclusion of all but white males from civic participation. With clarity and insight, Leonard and Cornell give us a Constitution that was from the beginning a living constitution, continually reinterpreted.'

Bruce Mann - Carl F. Schipper, Jr Professor of Law, Harvard University

'A first-rate study of a crucial period as the nation struggled with the rise of political parties and democratization of American politics. Those issues remain resonant today.'

Keith E. Whittington - William Nelson Cromwell Professor of Politics, Princeton University

'Leonard and Cornell have distilled and advanced understandings of what the framers intended for the US Constitution to do, and how federalists and Democratic-Republicans respectively interpreted it, even as these parties sometimes changed positions in the process. The authors also highlight how Democratic-Republicans triumphed while continuing to share some of the elitist assumptions of the original framers, and how rising democratic sentiment undermined these assumptions and thus altered constitutional understanding … This is a particularly appropriate book for history and constitutional law classes on antebellum America. Summing Up: Recommended.'

J. R. Vile Source: Choice

Refine List

Actions for selected content:

Select all | Deselect all
  • View selected items
  • Export citations
  • Download PDF (zip)
  • Save to Kindle
  • Save to Dropbox
  • Save to Google Drive

Save Search

You can save your searches here and later view and run them again in "My saved searches".

Please provide a title, maximum of 40 characters.



Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Book summary page views

Total views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between #date#. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed.